Being with the World Newah Organization

Rajiva Shanker Shresta


As the World Newah Organization (WNO) was holding its first teleconferencing on Sunday the 18th April 2010, we were with Jagatbandhumama who invited us that evening to celebrate his son Mohan’s return from the USA after successfully attending a conference where he delivered a talk on the Himalayan orchids and also to meet his daughter Madhu with her kids from South Africa. His younger brother Keshav Chandra Pradhan could join us later along with his wife Shanti and sons, Kailash and Shailesh as he was in Kalimpong to attend a marriage in the family and also to condole on the 45th day of the demise of Rishi’s father Kamal Pradhan. That is why Kalpana Pradhan was there for us teleconferencing – better with her Newar language.

Like his uncle, Mohan is also now an authority growing orchids with two superbly produced books on Orchids of the Sikkim Himalayas and Orchids of the North East India. He was telling us how it was possible to fill up his 22-questionnaire-application form for the US visa taking two days with my son Raman’s help and rewarded with 10-year visa while he needed it for 15-days only for the assignment. Keshavmama was also mentioning us his own experience in obtaining the US visa. We had then just applied for ours and things were best kept mum as even a call to appear before the US Consulate was not received.

Things with Sikkim Newa: Guthi (SNG) not going on well for past few months rather years and to sort it out Keshavmama as the Chief Patron had no way out but to call for a general meeting through the press on Sunday, 9th May 2010 only to elect a new body to take over and run the show. Soon followed a back dated letter from the then President for the same meeting stressing the need to clear the annual membership fee if to participate in the said election. Myself with my wife was to appear for the visa in Kolkata. Yet I felt strongly about the present plight of the Newars and the affairs of the Guthi as well and jotted down my feelings. Difficult to hold any more, I emailed it only to him lest its circulation before the scheduled general meeting could harm rather than serve its purpose as it was sensitizingly titled Sikkim Newars: My Perishing Tribe. Fortunately, as I also wished, the members could vent their grievances and select an ad-hoc body to take care of things with SNG as well.

The write up is now available in my book Newar – Haami Yastai Chhaun – conceived on return home on the 7th obtaining the visa and presented within a record time of 14 days on 21st May, 2010 before leaving for the USA. It is a compilation of current issues along with some burning topics concerning the Newar of Sikkim that I thought I should share. A good deed leads to another and the book was released by Rajesh Shrestha, President of the Newah Organization of America(NOA) on its 9th Convention Day on Sunday, 3oth May, 2010 at Potomac, MD, USA.

With Rohit Kumar Pradhan, a good driver himself and an engineer by profession, to lead, it may not be difficult to steer SNG ahead and engineer his way well through taking his team along. I remember him narrating how he could once control and drive down from Duga to Rangpho on way to Gangtok through when one of the tyres of the jeep he was driving went running ahead and yet could save himself and his passengers. He should, however, carefully check his tyres at this junture lest it punctures his efforts too. Punctured and worn out should be replaced with new ones to usher in fresh ideas as sticking with incompatible group result in productivity loss. Productivity suffers most when people are sitting on one side, crying – I read today. It is good that he has been kept out of entangling himself with the accounting mess of SNG as the demand and the need of the hour is to make things accountable without any one letting go scot-free.

It is worthwhile to mention here how the Newars in America struggling for their own survival in a foreign soil slogging and emailing even in wee hours yet manage to take their precious time out to devote and deliver steering ahead of various nitty-gritty of running a social organization like ours – be it NOA or WNO for upkeep and promotion of the language, rituals, customs and tradition in the best and for the Newar cause and interest. This is really laudable and a lesson to those back home.

Earlier, as I could not make to the get-together held evening due to journey from my daughter’s place at Exton in Pennsylvania, I took his time off early morning next day, the 30thMay, 2010 – the NOA 9th Convention Day I had to attend, with Bipin Jwaisaheb to meet Daya Ratna Shakya, Co-Editor/Publisher of the Newah Vijnana – the Journal of Newar Studies from Portland, Oregon with whom I am associated over a decade and presently Chair of the WNO and with Tribhuvan R. Tuladhar at his residence at Hay Market, Virginia to discuss together various issues of common interest with Dr Bal Gopal Shrestha, Co-Chair WNO presently doing his research on the Nepalese Diaspora in the United Kingdom and Belgium from the University of Oxford, United Kingdom in a teleconference. I once again thanked and expressed my gratefulness to Dr. Shrestha for his contribution by the research on the Sikkim Newars in 2004.

Excused ourselves, Bipin Jwaisaheb left for home allowing me to be soon teleconferencing together. While most issues with WNO being concerning Nepal and Sikkim being a State in India, we may not be of much help unless it is for the common Newar cause. Still we expressed our support to WNO expecting similar reciprocal support in return from the very beginning in the first world-wide teleconferencing on 18th April 2010. Since the WNO is a global body, it might not be difficult to relate to it and even for Sikkim for that matter without any territorial limitation in view of many such bodies like that of different communities e. g. Gujarati, Sindhi, Parsi, etc. are working in India.

For furtherance of WNO’s efforts to put across the message and their search for a support in Sikkim, it could be best availed from the Sikkim Newa: Guthi, I suggested. Daya was worried that SNG busy with their own affairs and seeking their help on the matter deem not reasonable enough. I agreed the newly formed working body may be pre-occupied re-organizing itself but the leadership is capable enough to handle such issues. They should however, be given the mandatory three months to come forward with their best foot forward in setting things straight. Otherwise, Rohit Kumar Pradhan is an engineer by education and profession well connected to the official machinery there to co-ordinate things in our favor and handle things like teleconferencing and networking may not be that problem to him.

WNO has plan to hold a conference where members could meet physically occasionally and with Sikkim as venue for one of such conferences even if not in immediate future. In that case, would it be possible for someone to come forward and help organizing such a meet when more than bringing in the people as participants, co-ordinate logistic support at local level being more important. WNO was assured of the capability of SNG with its official status to meet such an eventuality. Again, allow them some time to straighten their position out from the backlog of a decade and some years of stray.

Without entangling or involving in other petty matters, people entrusted with the responsibility of running the show leading the organization like NSG, NOA or WNO should realize the greater role they are to play within their own sphere as they are more needed to clear us out of mess already knee deep.

Similarly, the commendable role as the founder member of NOA doing well into its 9th year we have capable Daya Ratna Shakya in the Chair of the global body and his role to steer ahead WNO is equally significant and more needed – sooner the better – as we have greater expectation from WNO. I, however, personally feel and suggest under the presumption that money would flow in if we could prove the worth by our initial deeds:

– WNO need to share with us all the developments on the first teleconferencing of 18th April, 2010 and thereafter, uptodate without any further delay – minutes in brief
– WNO agenda in brief for immediate and near future and if also for the coming days ahead
– WNO e-newsletter, an official organ – since most of us may not be in a position to keep a track of emails, correspondences, conferences, events and comments to follow the developments thereof and to provide them official version every month/fortnight – this helps in binding us together
– Official letterhead for the WNO (the present one with a globe may not suffice the goal set in)
– A logo-shubhanker- to identify with the WNO
– A motto-beejmantra- to be committed to WNO
– Brief introduction of the WNO chair, co-chair, co-ordinators, contacts and experts – a careful select would be of help as too many cooks usually spoil the brooth
– Comments occasionally is okay but within limits as they sometimes turn counterproductive with some people overdo putting across their own viewpoint
– Rather suggestion as probable solution to a problem in hand be welcomed
– Since WNO has a clean slate to start from scratch, a careful listing starting with the objectives

Objectives also to cover and to cater to the Newah worldwide like us in Sikkim and India with a different nationality
Lastly, no politics within but through a committee of experts if needed but only to tackle external threat to the Newah people, identity and interest.

I also wish to share here that it is important to motivate ourselves first before motivating others. Motivated ourselves enough, we should motivate each other to keep ahead inspired to perform the task dedicated for the greater Newar cause.Anybody who cares could take a cue to benefit out of this, not only the Newars for that matter .